And another thing... (a follow-up)
I stumbled across the video below while perusing Facebook, and it was the perfect companion to the blog I wrote earlier this week, Feminism, Romance, and The Bechdel Test. Laci Green, the woman in the video, brilliantly touches upon the dangers of sexual objectification, and the fact that it has become so mainstream many of us don't notice it. It's just a part of our societal dialogue and culture, which is not okay. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_4dPB9MVS8&w=560&h=315]
Here are some additional articles and studies that discuss the topic and its impact on society.
I know some of these things, on the surface, might seem at odds with a romance author, where the primary goal (at least in my fiction), is pairing a woman with a man and sharing their love story. I also write explicit romance, which means naughty things happen and I'm not too shy about it. The thing is, I don't think having a healthy attitude about sex, embracing one's sexuality and celebrating it, or drafting romance stories that embrace it is a bad thing. I don't have anything against any subgenre of erotic romance. Some of it simply isn't my style, though I have been pleasantly surprised by some books I've been too curious to pass up. Women are overly sexualized in our culture, but there is also a prevalent message that women should be ashamed because of sex, that reading romance is "trashy", whereas it's mainstream to watch and discuss porn. Characters on hit TV shows can discuss their porn habits, even boast proudly (Barney Stinson is arguably the most popular character on How I Met Your Mother, and he has a porn library). An episode of The New Girl openly discussed porn, and the male characters, all of whom are likable, were familiar and open about it.
Romance novels are a different breed. Think of all the Fifty Shades jokes the pundits tossed (and still toss) around. Why should our sexuality be a punchline? I never read Fifty Shades and I have no desire to, but its cultural impact is tremendously important. If women control the message, the story changes. That's one of the many reasons I find romance (mainstream and erotic) liberating, and why I love writing what I write. My impact won't be on the level of E.L. James, but change starts at home.